⚡️Let's look at India's next decade

5 articles that can help us shape how India's next decade is going to be

Last week, we discussed if the book reading culture is declining. Today’s essay is designed differently. It is a compilation of a few trends that can help us think about India’s next decade.

I’d love your feedback about this article. Please fill out this 2-minute survey.

Zooming out

Photo by Atharva Tulsi on Unsplash

That technology is shaping India is a no-brainer. From tech products like Google, YouTube, WhatsApp, etc. becoming a part of our daily vocabulary, to the growth in internet usage, India has taken a huge leap last decade.

Almost 300 million rural internet users came online in the last decade. Google is dedicating an entire program, called The Next Billion, to an audience who is coming to the Internet for the first time. Several web companies are thriving and showing double-digit growth, all thanks to this huge audience coming online.

Let’s look at some of the trends in detail.

Zooming in

To dig deeper into what’s possible for the next decade, I’m currently compiling a list of resources that can help us predict. Here are some helpful articles -

India 1, India 2 and India 3 by Sajith Pai - 

Sajith Pai did a great job of classifying India into three distinct user types, which he compares with different countries around the world. 

India 1, the affluent group of people, those having the power to spend on expensive brands, represent a market similar to Mexico. By comparing this market with Mexico, Sajith mentions how India’s startups have a market sizing problem.

India 2, the emerging middle class of India, which is the bulk of the market, is being compared to the Philippines by Sajith. To win in this market, Sajith mentions that one has to get rid of their attachment to English and win the vernacular market.

India 3, which Sajith compares with Sub-Saharan Africa excluding South Africa, is an interesting market. I think this market is the ultimate test of user experience designers, and I am curious to see what Google does with its next billion users initiative.

You can read the original article here

Searching for Superman by Inc42

Similar to WeChat in India, the race for finding a super-app in India is on. A super app is an app that people use tens of times every day, to facilitate everything from entertainment, bookings to payments and networking. 

With the free market India offers, there are almost a dozen apps that are running in this race, the top two being WhatsApp and PayTM. 

The race is interesting to monitor, but I think we will never see a clear winner of this race, which is not a bad thing! The more the competition, the better the services for a consumer.

Read the full article here.

The time for OTT is here:

Over the top entertainment companies like Netflix, Prime Video, Hotstar, etc. are heavily focusing their efforts on India. The reason is obvious - one of the fastest-growing internet markets. With traditional television moving online, it will be very interesting to see how our audience adapts to this new form of media. 

Hotstar set the world record for the highest number of concurrent streaming users during the Cricket World Cup Semifinal in 2019, with as many as 25.3 million users streaming at the same time.

The video OTT market in India is estimated to be INR 21.5 billion with advertising contributing up to 80 percent of the total revenue.

You can read the full article here.

UPI hits 1bn transactions and goes global by inc42

Unified Payments Interface, the platform developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), a governmental organization, has shown tremendous success in the digitization of financial transactions in India.

The beauty of UPI lies in the common infrastructure it provides to private companies to build apps on top of. All you need to pay someone is their phone number or UPI ID. The transactions are instant, with no lag. In this aspect, India has leaped ahead of the most advanced countries in the world. 

Earlier this year, the NPCI decided to go global. The NPCI is working with Singapore to enable UPI transactions in the country. 

Read the full articles:

  • UPI hits 1bn transactions here

  • UPI goes global here.

The growth of the gig economy by QZ India:

With technology, employment opportunities are changing. Dunzo, Ola, Uber, Swiggy, and Zomato are leading an organized gig economy, where an individual has total flexibility over their work hours and thus, their earnings. 

At the same time, freelancing is growing in popularity, with as many as 24% of global gig workers coming from India. Startups like TapChief, Frapp, FlexingIt, and Upwork are growing to tap this market.

In the next decade, we will see a rise in unconventional jobs, which could lead to greater incomes for individuals. 

Read the full article here.

Next week, I’ll write more about sustainable cities. Recently, I spoke to the founder of Utopiatech, a Mumbai-based company working in the smart lighting space.

I’d love your feedback about this article. Please fill out this 2-minute survey.

Please share this essay with your friends and family.


Thanks for reading :)


☠📉Are books going to die?

Book consumption is declining while audio and video consumption are increasing

Last week, we visited Transit-oriented development and dense cities. I wrote down an article which talks about big cities across the world.

Today, I’ll share with you some information about book consumption.

But before that, a request! Share my blog with your friends and family if they are interested in reading about these topics.

Share Zoom in, zoom out

Book consumption is declining

Bad news — book sales are seeing a slowdown over the past decade. The time Americans dedicate to reading has gone down to 0.29 hours daily, from 0.36 in 2003.

Ebooks, which were once thought of as a growth catalyst for books, are on the decline too!

In India, the book market seems to be growing, but predominantly for educational books. With a growing young population, it makes sense that the book market was worth $6.76bn two years ago. Studies suggest that the market has not fully matured, and there is still room to grow for publishers and authors.

This trend is contrary to what I see around me. Not many people today are reading books. With the plethora of video and audio content available online, it is harder to convince people to read a book.

It concerns me that the macro-level data might not be an accurate representation of how people are consuming books. We need to delve deeper into individual book genres to know more. But finding that data is hard!

If you know of any data I could look at, let me know.

Zooming in

Last week, I was talking to a friend who mentioned how he used to read a lot of books as a kid. He happily mentioned a few series by authors. But he mentioned that he doesn’t read books anymore, primarily because it takes a lot more effort.

I have heard this from a few people —

If the book is good, it will show up as a movie or TV show eventually. So it is best to wait until a show is created.

What do you think about this? A part of me burns when I hear this.

Personally, I think books are the best self-paced form of learning. Reading a book requires a lot more focus than watching a TV show, which gets you to learn more as you read.

At the same time, text still rules the internet as compared to audio and video content, since text is the easiest content form to discover by sites like Google. I’ll write a follow-up post explaining what this means.

This alarms me because my book, The Advisory Board, is out for consumption now! If you love reading, check out the link above.

I’d love your feedback about this article. Please fill out this 2-minute survey.

Thanks for reading :)


Density is not always bad

In the case of cities, it's excellent for planning transportation

Last week, we looked at how cities have been the biggest catalysts of growth for countries. Today, I want to stress on transit-oriented development and why it’s important.

But before that, a quick request!

Get your contacts to sign up for the newsletter. I’ll give away 2 copies of my book, The Advisory Board to the first 2 people who get more than 5 people to sign up. Share now!

Share Zoom in, zoom out

Transit-oriented development (TOD)

Zooming out

TOD means developing cities with transit centres as focal points. The intent is to maximize the use of public transit and reduce reliance on personal vehicles.

A typical TOD has a railway station or a bus station at its centre, surrounded by relatively high-density development, which could include office complexes, malls, etc.

For TOD to succeed, sufficient density is required. For example, developing a rail network requires a critical mass of riders to be present. Without enough population, it is hard to build a railway system that is sustainable in the long term.

Studies suggest that TOD can help reduce driving by 85%, thus leading to better management of cities, fewer traffic jams and a potentially a lower carbon footprint.

Zooming in

Let’s take the case of Tokyo.

Tokyo is best known for its excellent public transit system. Look at this subway map -

Tokyo’s train system is designed to minimize car use. Taking a train is usually much faster than sitting in a car in traffic. The extensive route map helps too. Chances are — you would not have to walk for more than fifteen minutes after getting off from a train.

TOD in Tokyo is more than a type of development, it is a lifestyle. Owning a car is a choice; thus all persons of all levels of ability are able to meet their needs, for which TOD in Tokyo allows millions to meet in a manner that is sustainable and equitable.

Furthermore, because of this density, a lot of business is created. Japan’s six passenger railway companies are hugely profitable corporations. This is hugely because the real estate around train stations is owned by the railway company. They own it all — from the department stores to vending machines.

Why is this important?

TOD brings with itself immense opportunities for businesses, as is stated by the example of Tokyo. New retail stores, new food joints, new real estate spaces, etc. There are a lot of opportunities to create valuable businesses.

As cities like Mumbai move towards TOD, we should think of what valuable businesses can be created that do not exist today.

For example, what about a content creation business that is built around Mumbai’s transit? The opportunities are plenty!

I’d love your feedback about this article. Please fill out this survey. It will take less than 2 minutes.

Next week, I’ll write about smart cities and what they really mean.

Thanks for reading!


Cities - the catalyst for growth

What do cities do for the growth of the world?

This week’s topic is an age-old one. Cities - the catalysts for growth in the world. I will zoom out and look at how cities help growth and zoom in to the case of Mumbai.

I think the topic deserves attention, looking at what’s happening in Delhi right now.

If you know of anyone who is interested in joining the Zoom In, Zoom out the community, ask them to subscribe. A lot of great info coming!

Share Zoom in, zoom out

⚡Random fact of the week

Most of the books published sell less than 250 copies. Alarming, right?

Cities - the catalyst for growth

We know it. Cities are an indicator of the development of a country. The better the cities, the better the chances of a country being developed.

They bring together a large share of the population, with infrastructure and opportunities that help catalyze the growth of a country. Usually, cities are well connected with the rest of the world, which leads to rapid industrialization, a growing population and thus, a thriving economy.

Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash

Zooming out

Late last year, a study stated that 17 out of 20 fastest growing cities in the world are in India. That is a testament to the country’s high growth rate, though it is bringing its own set of challenges.

Not just India, take any rapidly developing country in the world. Chances are high that its cities are growing fast.

The power of cities comes from people staying close together and forming communities that solve problems for everyone else. For example, a public transit authority solving transit problems for everyone in the city. Solving such common problems helps people focus on their interests and find newer sources of income.

But rapid growth has its own pains.

Bangalore is facing severe traffic issues, Mumbai is facing population issues, Delhi is facing pollution issues.

As I think about it more, it concerns me that our cities might no longer be liveable. But, I see this as a huge opportunity for us to solve city-specific problems.

Zooming in

Take the case of Mumbai — a city home to almost 20 million (2 crore) people. Mumbai is one of the densest cities in the world.

All the benefits of cities that I described above are possible because of population density. Higher density leads to larger communities, thus helping people solve problems for one another and thus growing the economy.

Take the case of mIndicator - an app that notifies people about bus and train timings. The android app has almost 400k downloads, which is a number that many modern companies would envy.

But, density, Mumbai’s biggest strength, is turning into its weakness. The city’s infrastructure is not able to handle the population, thus depriving people of the basic benefits of a city.

Mumbai’s transportation infrastructure needs massive improvement. The government is improving the metro infrastructure, planning as many as 11 lines to complement the current rail infrastructure. Yet, these changes are going to take a long time to take effect. Politics, funding, elections, government changes, etc. — there are too many variables here.

While the government works on its own timeline, we should focus on solving some problems ourselves. Again, mIndicator comes to mind. Citizen-led products and services that solve real problems are much more required today than ever before.

Closing note

Let us not expect the government to solve all city-related problems. We have opportunities to solve problems and maybe, even make money in the process.

I’ll end today’s article with this thought. Think deeper about it. Next week, let’s look deeper into what transit-oriented development means and how cities like Tokyo thrive despite huge populations.

Is anyone interested in researching city-specific problems and brainstorm solutions? I’d love to talk to you!

Cool photo of the week -

The Advisory Board is now available on Amazon across the world. Buy it now!

Thanks for reading :)


Social commerce - deep dive

Let's dive deeper into social commerce today.

This essay is in continuation of the last one - Social Commerce, which received good feedback. Special thanks to all the 5 people who sent me feedback about my last article!

This week, I spoke to a founder about their social commerce startup, and a few startup geeks what they think about the concept.

If you like my writing, please share it with others. Getting more feedback only helps us grow the Zoom In, Zoom Out community.

Share Zoom in, zoom out

⚡Random fact of the week

UPI crosses 100 million users to become the fastest growing payment stack!

My chat with the founder of marsplay

Last week, I got on a call with Misbah Ashraf, the founder of Marsplay. It is a fashion-focussed social commerce app.

Their idea is that you are much more likely to buy clothes when your friends recommend you, rather than when Alia Bhatt recommends you. The company believes that everyone has a fashion sense, rather than saying that one sense is better than another. They launched in August 2018 and has extensively tested its product offering with about 800 beta testers.

When the company started, they opened a physical studio for its creators to come and use for free. The studio acted as a way to build a community among creators, thus helping them network as well.

Companies like Marsplay have an opportunity to delve deeper into recommendations triggered by social networks, rather than recommendations based on similar profiles, as is the case with Amazon or Flipkart. Here’s a detailed article about Marsplay.

I also spoke to two other people who are versed with the concept. They mentioned how social commerce feels like a scam to them. Making money off of our friends and family is a bad thing, they mentioned. What do you think?

I think we need to let the concept mature. People ridicule change. Sometimes, I feel that unless new trends don’t get some criticism, it is actually bad.

Why is this relevant?

I am confident that the trend is not going anywhere. Over the last decade, referral sales by influencers (bloggers, YouTubers, etc.) always led to huge sales for e-commerce platforms. This was a variant of social commerce.

The concept of social commerce is ripe for growth.

I am certain that in the next five years, we’ll see whole software tooling built only around WhatsApp. Marketing and sales tools built on top of WhatsApp would be a dream for small merchants who are using WhatsApp to connect with their clients.

If you know of anyone who is looking to startup, do get me in touch! I would be happy to share my research with them.

Next week, I’ll write about the cities, which have been some of the best vehicles for growth. If you know anyone who would be interested in reading, 👇

Share Zoom in, zoom out

😎 Cool pic of the week

Here’s the cover of my second book - The Advisory Board, which will be available worldwide on December 1. Mark your calendars!

I’ll be sharing additional info about the book through my blog. Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading :)


Loading more posts…